Wang R, Helf C, Tizek L, Neuhauser R, Eyerich K, Zink A, Eberlein B, Biedermann T, Brockow K, Boehner A
Int J Environ Res Public Health 17 (17) - [2020-08-26; online 2020-08-26]
The pandemic outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affects health care systems globally and leads to other challenges besides infection and its direct medical consequences. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) pandemic on the university dermatology outpatient clinic (UDOC) of the Technical University of Munich, Germany. We analyzed datasets from 2015 until 2020 extracted from the hospital information system database and our documented outpatient files regarding patient numbers, gender, age, and diagnoses. In 2020, case numbers of outpatient care declined significantly ( p = 0.021) compared to previous years and was related to the timing of political announcements answering SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Additionally, during calendar week 10 to 15-the peak time of the spread of COVID-19 in Germany-the proportion of patients missing their consultation was significantly higher in 2020 than in 2019 (22.4% vs. 12.4%; p < 0.001). Gender-associated differences regarding absences were not detected, but patients aged 85 years or older were significantly more likely to miss their consultation compared to all other age groups (p = 0.002). Regarding different disease clusters, patients with chronic inflammatory skin diseases and infectious and malignant diseases were more likely to miss their consultation (p = 0.006). Noticeably, less patients with malignant diseases, and particularly malignant melanoma, were registered during this pandemic. Our data support the hypothesis that medically constructive prioritization might not be implemented properly by patients themselves. Identifying missed patients and catching up on their medical care apart from COVID-19 will pose an enormous challenge for health care systems globally.